Investing more in one SEO strategy usually means investing less in another, at least in the short term.
Choosing the path straight down the middle isn’t going to be the best choice for every brand, either.
With that in mind, let’s talk about three primary strategic SEO trade-offs that you’ll need to consider when making important decisions for your brand optimization.
- Traffic vs. Relevance
I know what a lot of you are thinking. “It’s relevance, obviously.”
Yes, an SEO strategy that doesn’t factor relevance into the game plan is obviously flawed.
Traffic from users who would never have an interest in your product is inherently wasteful.
Except when it isn’t.
Here’s the thing:
There’s actually a lot more to consider than might be immediately apparent.
Consider the following:
Pros of a High Traffic, Low Relevancy Approach
- Higher the traffic earned, better are your chances of earning natural links from visitors.
- High traffic means that people who would be interested in your products may hear of you second hand from visitors who never would be interested in your products, whether that is through social sharing or in person.
- More traffic volume means it is easier to achieve statistically significant results from SEO experiments, A/B tests, and similar data approaches.
- More traffic can ultimately mean increase in the total number of relevant visits, even if the proportion of relevant visits is lower.
- High traffic strategies can reach people who are further up the sales funnel but may still ultimately take an interest in your product, often in wildly unpredictable ways.
The Disadvantages of a High Traffic Approach
- High traffic keywords are often very competitive, even when they are low in relevancy. The easiest keywords to rank for are those with limited traffic potential and audiences with very specific needs.
- Poor conversion rates limit the immediate financial value of high traffic strategies.
- Chasing too many high traffic topics can look cynical or dilute your brand’s message.
Pros of a High Relevancy, Low Traffic Approach
- Much higher conversion rates for lead generation and sales.
- Less competitive keywords to target.
- A more targeted psychological impact on the visitors who are most likely to ultimately buy your products, leading to a stronger brand affinity.
- More enthusiastic brand advocates.
- More relevant natural anchor text in your earned links.
The Disadvantages of a High Relevancy Approach
- High relevancy keywords can be just as competitive as high traffic keywords if they have high conversion rates. High audience relevance often doesn’t translate to high product relevance.
- High relevancy strategies can be difficult to scale, especially without alienating your existing audience.
- Becoming too focused on a limited set of topics can limit your brand’s perceived personality.
- Consumer vs. Influencer
It seems obvious that your target audience should consist of the people who will ultimately end up buying your products.
However, you also need to consider the fact that influencers with the power to link to us, share our content, and expose us to a broader audience are equally important as a factor.
Closely related is the question of whether we are writing for an industry or for a set of interests.
I’ll mostly be lumping “set of interests” in with “consumers”, and “industry” with “influencers,” but keep in mind that there can be a little bit of cross contamination here.
If you work in B2B, things are slightly different, but much of what applies to “consumer” applies to the businesses that would be your clients, while the “influencer” label falls to thought leaders in your industry and your client’s industries, it also includes businesses that offer services similar to your own.
Pros of an Influencer, Industry Targeted Approach
- Writing for bloggers, journalists, and the industry you compete in is the strategy most likely to earn the mos authoritative links. Since these are the people who own the authoritative sites, and most of them are willing to cite their sources, you can still pick up a tremendous amount of SEO authority with content that targets these people.
- Likewise, producing content for this audience is the most likely to result in sharing on social networks.
- Influencer-focused content can be a jumping off point for collaborative content, mutual link earning opportunities, and even business partnerships and B2B opportunities that you may not have considered.
Cons of the Influencer Approach
- The influencers who can reach your audiences and the businesses who are competing with you for sales from them are often one and the same.
- Industry-focused content may not necessarily appeal to your consumers, and may even alienate them.
Pros of a Consumer, Interest Focused Approach
- Writing for consumers gives you a more down-to-earth appearance in the minds of the people who will actually be buying your products.
- Having a direct practical impact on your consumer’s life before they even buy a product from you means they will be more likely to trust you and buy your products.
- Consumer-focused content usually has more overall traffic potential.
Cons of the Consumer Approach
- Consumers rarely control platforms with followed links which can help your SEO and can rarely connect you to larger audiences of their own.
- Consumer-focused content, particularly when it isn’t aimed at power-users, can come across as introductory level to influencers and thus not worthy of passing on.
- Trending vs. Evergreen
The choice between content that appeals to people’s desire for novelty and content that stands the test of time can be a difficult one to make.
Investing more in one type of content always means investing less in the other.
How much of each is the right balance for you?
Pros of Content About Trending Topics
- Focusing on trending topics allows you to be a part of ongoing conversations, which has obvious SEO benefits in terms of earning links and engagements that contribute to your long-term authority in the search engines.
- If you are one of the first to tackle a trending topic, it’s unlikely that your competitors will be able to overtake you before the interest in the topic subsides.
- Emerging topics, especially the ones that haven’t been tackled by large news sites, have limited competition, and SEO is skewed more in the direction of freshness than authority, giving sites with limited SEO authority a better chance of ranking.
Cons of a Trending Approach
- If you aren’t selective enough with your trending topics, you are likely to pick the same trending topics as others and unlikely to be one of the first to publish.
- Trending topics earn a spike in traffic, but rarely send long-term traffic.
Pros of Content About Evergreen Topics
- Since evergreen content continues to earn traffic every month, it allows you to cumulatively build your monthly traffic just by producing new content, instead of needing to chase bigger topics each month.
- Since it is a recurring source of traffic, you have more freedom to update it, experiment with it, test it, and optimize it for conversions, relevance, and traffic potential.
- Since your products are designed to solve problems that will continue to exist, and evergreen content is designed to solve problems that will continue to exist, the connection between evergreen content and sales is often more direct, even for topics relatively high up the sales funnel.
Cons of an Evergreen Approach
- It can be difficult to earn attention from influencers for an evergreen topic without introducing some novel information, such as a survey or original research, and since it is likely that others have covered the topics beforehand making it difficult to overtake the competition. Put another way, the benefit of evergreen content for those who wrote it first is an obstacle for anybody else who would want to tackle the subject.
- Evergreen content typically needs to be more comprehensive, in-depth, and well produced than content about trending topics, which can require investing more resources.